Bringing the UN’s newest Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to fruition will demand the skills of engineers. Here’s how they can contribute.
The United Nations has replaced its Millennium Development Goals with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that seek to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, promote economic growth and prosperity, improve health and education and protect the planet.
Engineers will need to play an important role in making them happen.
Dr Marlene Kanga, a former Engineers Australia National President and President Elect of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO), said engineering skills will be vital to achieve the aspirations of many of these goals.
She said important goals where engineers have a role are: clean water and sanitation for all (Goal 6), availability of sustainable energy sources (Goal 7), creating strong and resilient infrastructure (Goal 9) and liveable cities (Goal 11).
“Natural disaster and resilience is also an essential part of Goal 11, and engineers have an important role in designing and building resilient infrastructure and cities,” she said.
Within each of the goals there are targets such as doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, and a specific goal to make cities more sustainable with targets to increase affordable housing and access to sustainable transport (Goal 11).
Achieving many of these targets will need integrated engineering solutions that provide resilient infrastructure, sustainable energy and access to the latest communication technology. Bridging the digital divide, where most of the world does not have access to the internet, is also crucial.
Engineers will need to leverage existing and widely deployed technologies and future developments in ICT – including next-generation mobile broadband, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, 3D printing and others – to provide the tools for integrated solutions for sustainable development.
Engineers Australia is providing its voice to the contributions of engineers in progressing the SDGs via the WFEO. Through its network of national and international engineering member institutions in 90 countries, representing 20 million engineers, WFEO is able to contribute to the discourse on the role of engineering and engineers in the development of technologically and environmentally-feasible solutions.
Key UN SDGs for engineers
- Access to affordable, reliable sustainable and modern energy.
- Resilient infrastructure.
- Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.
- Foster innovation.
- Inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.